Tag Archives: Australia

Gympie

5 Apr

We decided to make the best use of the car we were leant and go and visit our trainer from Visitoz, Rance. Despite a few wrong turns the day before (getting barged off the M1 as I ended up in an exit lane and couldn’t get back on it), it all ended up ok as this was on the slip road back onto the motorway

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…and that meant MARMITE. Our supply ran out months ago so we were really pleased to find it here and stocked up. We have researched Marmite supply in New Zealand (this was one of the first things we checked) and were happy to find out that it is sold there…however ‘Marmite’ there is made in NZ and to a different recipe (the second ingredient is sugar, ew) but we can get real Marmite but it is called My Mate. We have learnt the hard way to avoid Vegemite, and the less said about Promite and Cheesymite the better. We do feel we’ll get on with the Kiwis as their ‘Marmite’ factory had to shut down for 2 years following the earthquake there and they referred to this as ‘Marmageddon’. I think we’ll be friends.

Anyway, we decided to drive to Gympie (a mere three hours away, a titchy drive by Aussie standards) to see Rance. The journey went well although it never fails to scare me driving on Australian motorways as undertaking is absolutely fine, so you get people trying to cut in from both sides and also the road trains (up to three lorries joined together with 56 wheels, not something you argue with) are not speed restricted in the same way the lorries are in the UK, so the thunder on past at 30km above the speed limit whilst your little car shakes…but we passed the time by trying to pronouce all the Aussie towns’ names. It looks like someone has taken English words and added about nine million vowels – Diddlibah, Caloolahbah, Squigglywigglyloolahagangalangoomerigigaligoolamoo…it was quite fun. If Countdown allowed proper nouns, Aussies would win hands down.

But after the main stretch on the M1, we came to gorgeous scenery near the Mary River

Mary valley

and the drive became much more relaxing. We checked into the Royal Hotel in Gympie so not to have to drive all the way back in the same day and explored the little town, which was lovely and quaint. Immaculately kept and very pretty. After a nice lunch in the Old Brown Jug cafe, we drove up to Rance’s house to say hello.

Rance Goodluck (you couldn’t make it up!) was our trainer on the Visitoz course we did in preparation for station work in the Outback. He was a fantastic teacher and made our experience in Alice Springs so much better as everything he said came in handy on a daily basis. This man has mustered everything from wild horses (himself on horseback) to ostriches and has broken nearly every bone in his body doing so. To say he has some interesting stories is doing him a disservice…we could and did listen to him for hours. He took the time to explain everything and to make sure it had gone in, and made it funny and engaging at the same time. We wanted to see him again to tell him about our experiences and how useful his advice had been to us. We met him at his old Queenslander house just outside Gympie in the rolling countryside and spent an hour or two swapping “war stories” as he would say. It was lovely to see him and he seemed very pleased we’d popped in to say hello.

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Rance Goodluck: a true Aussie legend. “Unnnnnnnnnnnnnreal”.

We drove back to Gympie and ate an enormous tea at the hotel and then went up to our room where a combination of a food coma and an incredibly comfortable bed hit us and we went to sleep about 8pm :I

We had planned to do a horse trek the next day but we were put off by the fact it was expensive and when we woke up, it was tipping it down. Rance had told us there was good fishing up at Tin Can Bay so we decided to take a small detour up there and drove the 40km through the forests to find the weather was just as bad, it was blowing a gale and the tide was going out. We got out of the car, hair horizontal, took a solitary picture

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…and looked at each other, said “yep, that was nice” and immediately got back in the car for the return journey, 40 km back again!

We thought it would be nice to take the scenic route down the 6 along the Sunshine Coast rather than spend all the time on the motorway. When we got to Noosaville, we were feeling that the Sunshine Coast was somewhat missold

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But it soon cleared up and we had a nice drive with the beaches to our left until we hit the M1 again…we saw the castle cafe and decided that anywhere that had a fake castle and a dinosaur on the roof was our kind of place but unfortunately they wanted $14 just to go into the cafe so we dejectedly gave it a miss

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Suddenly the torrential rain started again and the road, sky and the cars we were following disappeared. We ducked into the services to try and miss the worst of it as it was genuinely scary, ate a Subway and then set off again. Thankfully the weather cleared up again and we got back in one piece.

Then it was a mental packing/cleaning/saying goodbye marathon – we had to pop into Lorraine and Jake’s as Lorraine has just lost her mum and it would have been so nice to be there for her for the funeral etc but sadly we have to go where the work is. We’ve seen them a couple of times since we’ve been back which has been nice despite things, but hopefully they can pop over to NZ to see us later on in the year.

So all that’s left to do is make sure the house is ok, say goodbye to Winchester (I’ll write to you every day) and get to the airport at 5am tomorrow. Excited!

 

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Cyclones, Valentine’s Day and a something resembling a plan

14 Mar

Another month of working hard and being hot (possibly not in that order) has drifted by and we find ourselves nearly at the end of our time in Broome. Aside from all the work, there have been a couple of interesting things that have happened recently – the first was Valentine’s Day, which was lovely as we actually got to spend some time with each as we’ve been like ships in the night…Craig leaves before I get up, I leave for job number 2 before he gets home and then he’s in bed before I get back in the evening. So it was good to see him and have a meal together…at the pub where I work because we get 50% off, needs must! However, I can’t doubt Craig’s true feelings towards me as I got home from work the other day and found the last of the pork crackling from our housemates’ roast in the fridge

If that doesn’t equal true love, I don’t know what does.

Craig’s Valentines raspberry upside down cake I made for him

Of course the other thing that happened was Severe Tropical Cyclone Rusty. I was incredibly excited, not having experienced a cyclone before, and was shamefully actively hoping it might hit near us (obviously not for it to smash straight into Broome but somewhere near would have been fine!) but sadly it veered off South and decided to hit the tiny community of Pardoo instead. As far as I know everyone there is fine. Broome was on ‘blue alert’ for a few days so everyone went to Woolies and literally cleared their shelves of tinned food and bottled water (and later, veggies and bread when the road from Perth was closed and they didn’t have any deliveries), cleared up all the junk in their gardens, took down their shade cloths etc and battened down the hatches, crossing all fingers and toes for a yellow alert as that means everyone has to go home to prepare, also known as a DAY OFF WORK. That didn’t happen so it was business as usual, albeit business as usual in torrential rain and wind as although Rusty didn’t directly hit us, we were only 400km away so still felt the sting in it’s tail. Winds of up to 90km per hour were felt, trees came down and it rained for a week.

So cycling to work and back was ultra fun and so was running room service at the hotel – coming back in behind the bar absolutely drenched. For the entire week, I don’t think I was 100% dry at any one time. However, the rain and wind meant the temperatures were not blistering as usual so it was actually a welcome change. Obviously things have calmed down now so when I looked at the temperature at 9am this morning the ‘feels like’ temp (factoring in the humidity) was 42.2 degrees.

Having basically just worked and slept for the last few months, we decided to go and do some nice touristy stuff whilst the weather was less mental so borrowed our housemates’ car and drove to the crocodile park just outside of town.

Whilst we waited for the rain to stop a bit, I held a very cute black-headed python – or rather it held me, snaking its snakey body all the way around my waist! – and a baby crocodile. Then we went off to throw chickens into one of the croc reserves – this one had around 70 adult males.

Some of the crocs who had not been brought up in the park were kept in seperate pens, lurking underneath the algae so you couldn’t see any part of them. When the keeper whacked a chicken down in front of the water, the crocodiles would leap out of the water and catch the chicken before it had hit the ground. One of the crocodiles was 5m long and enormous. We were slightly worried about what would happen if the park flooded and all the maddest and baddest crocodiles from around the country (other croc parks ship their delinquent specimens to this one as they are better at handling them apparently!) floated over the fences and down into our bath taps?!

Talking of mad and bad, this little bluetongue lizard was neither of these things

Kym caught him and Tanya and I fed him slices of banana which he happily chomped his way through. Very sweet.

We chomped our way through kangaroo steaks for tea – not sure this is exactly traditional Aussie fare but it turns out teriyaki kangaroo was actually lovely!

We booked our flights to Brisbane for 25th March (six months nearly to the day we arrived in Broome so we can get a portion of our tax paid back, yay!) and have been scratching our heads as to what to do next, as discussed in the last post. Going home to see family and friends is something we obviously were looking forward to, but seeing as the financial news is so dire, although we have saved up a fair amount of cash in Oz, it would not be enough to live on for any length of time whilst we searched for jobs (a process that in my case took 6 months in 2008, never mind now!). Besides, we want to do something amazing with the money, like set up our own business, not use it to buy food and boring things like that. So we looked into where else we could work and New Zealand popped up as also having a working holiday scheme.

All of New Zealand looks like this – FACT.

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We were sold. Unfortunately this means we won’t be home soon friends and family, but hopefully it will mean that we won’t need to ask to live on your floor when we do get back! Sadly, Craig’s too ancient to get a working holiday visa so after some frantic googling, I found another visa that he could apply for with only two downsides: it was £500 and you had to be in England to get it. Why I asked…because we have to post your passport back to an English address. Ah-ha! So Craig’s passport was popped into the post for its journey round the world and back again (Mum’s going to post it back to us here) – it’ll be more travelled than us when it gets back! – and Craig was put under strict instructions not to get into any trouble whilst we were as he was now abroad and passport-less! We got the great news today that his visa has been issued, now it’s just a race for it to get to Mum’s, for her to post it, and then receive it in Broome before we fly in 11 days. If it doesn’t come, Craig’ll have to wait for another few days whilst I go back to Brizzie to save both of us from having to change our flights and incur more costs.

So we are very excited about the next stage of our trip. NZ particularly appeals as it’s coming into their winter and they get Properly Cold, so that means we can finally pack the shorts and teeshirts we’ve lived in for the last six months away and wrap up warm, something we haven’t done in FOURTEEN MONTHS. Insanity. We might even get snow!!! Also, as Aussie jobs pay more, Kiwis are moving over here so there appear to be plenty of jobs around for both of us. I have a skype interview for a job in Wellington on Monday so fingers crossed…and there seem to be quite a few tradie jobs for Craig to do dotted about the place so hopefully we’ll both be earning. We will also get taxed less as NZ don’t have a ‘foreigner tax’ like Oz, so should be easier to save…oh, and its gorgeous and I’ve heard its teeming with hobbitses so expect lots of pictures soon. Never fear photography fans, me and my camera lead which I left in Brisbane will soon be reunited so the quality of the pics on the blog will increase substantially!

Australia Day

27 Jan

I worked in the morning of Australia Day but my boss let me off doing one of the rooms as she said that I should really be drinking beer on Australia Day instead of working, and who am I to argue? Our housemates have recently bought a boat so they decided to take us out in it to mark the holiday – loaded up the esky with ice and beers (although we took Thai beer, it’s nicer and it’s cheap – heresy!), packed the barbie and ‘snags’ – sausages, nope doesn’t make sense to me either – and fishing rods and went off to Town Beach. Despite studying the tide times all day (maybe with his eyes closed) :), our housemate Kym found that we still had a little time to wait when we got there

boat

Never mind, great excuse for a beer.

It didn’t take too long for the tide to come in so we were soon afloat and we drifted off towards Town Beach, so that we could watch the fireworks that were being set off from a boat in the sea. We had the best view

The fireworks went on for about half an hour and looked beautiful reflecting off the water. There was a live band on before that which we could hear so we were sorted for entertainment – as well as Kym catching a massive fish which leapt from his hands into the frying pan we were cooking the sausages on! Stuck him in the esky for tea another night. Poor thing.

Ate our sausages, burger and fried onions and listened to the sound of the water lapping against the side of the boat. A great Australia Day and quite possibly the most Aussie experience ever! Just need to stop squealing when giant bugs fly in my face, stop complaining about the weather and refuse to drink beer that is anything warmer than 1 degree and they’ll be practically handing us our residency papers.

The wet season finally arrives

20 Jan

We got woken up to the mother of all thunderstorms at 3 am this morning. It sounded like the roof had collapsed it was so loud. We drew back the curtains to watch the lightening from bed (sleep was impossible – it even woke me up and I sleep with earplugs in!) and looked on as the sky lit up and the thunder kept on crashing for another hour or so. Though I could have done with the extra sleep, at least the morning was blissfully cool so work was less of a chore.

We went food shopping on the bikes this afternoon and came out just in time for the rain to start again…this time it was properly raining. We had a look at the weather radar – something people here do regularly! – which shows it’s a storm that is over 100 km wide…Broome is right in the middle:

So although it’s stopped hammering us with thunder, it’s still raining and as the streets here don’t have drains, our road quickly turned into a river

And what do you do if you live next to a river?

Awesome. It is now 24.3 degrees, the coolest temp we’ve been in since the desert nights in Alice Springs back in July, Aussie winter. Still probably sounds hot to everyone in the UK – thanks for the snow pics by the way! – but a drop of twenty degrees since the beginning of the week is just amazing. Looking forward to cycling/swimming to work in an hour…

How to get home?

14 Jan

…Craig’s just decided we should drive from somewhere else in the world back to the UK. After all of 6 seconds spent persuading me, I agreed (god damn you Jim Beam)…although Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq are vetoed for obvious (“boring” according to Craig) reasons. So we are now considering our route, which Craig declares “requires more booze”. Where can I hide my credit card so I don’t wake up tomorrow to find we’ve booked some ridiculous journey or bought some clapped out old banger on ebay to get home in?! The vegetable drawer in the fridge??

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Christmas, NY and a whole lot of work

13 Jan

Christmas and New Year pretty much passed us by – it just felt wrong having them in summer time! We had a barbie for tea on Christmas Day

and a long-staying guest at my hotel bought me a bottle of Baileys so that served as lunch and then watched the utter rubbish that was on tv (any good programmes here go on the Aussie equivalent of Sky so all the free channels are left with are reruns of To the Manor Born and Doctors. Dire!). There was an amazing electrical storm out to sea when we popped to my friend’s house for a drink though. New Years was spent in much the same way – when a pint costs $10 in a pub – £6.50 – and you only earn $350 a week, going out loses much of its appeal as after rent and food, $10 is pretty much all we have left! Craig marked our two year anniversary which falls on New Year’s Eve in typically romantic fashion by falling asleep at about 9pm so I watched Sydney’s fireworks (they’re two hours ahead) by myself and then went to bed just after 10. Bah humbug.

Martin emailed from back home to say it is -5 in the mornings…whereas Broome has just had its hottest December since records began, with highs of 44 and an average night time temp of 27. Even the sea is 32 degrees all year round. ‘Hot’ has now become an emotion:

‘How are you?’

‘Hot.’

‘How are you feeling?’

‘Like I’m on fire.’

‘What do you want to do tonight?’

‘Sit in a bucket of ice water, in the freezer. Or die.’

Gets a bit repetitive after a while! I think it’ll be a shock to the system going home…at least the coldest part of their weather is pretty much over now but will have to stock up on woolly things just in case :) So with our physical work, lack of funds and the weather, Broome is turning into an excellent test of endurance. But once we’ve earned enough cash and stayed put long enough to become Aussie residents for tax purposes (end of March – meaning instead of getting taxed at 32.5%…ouch…we get an $18k tax free allowance and then 22% on everything else, meaning we should get a nice refund when we leave Oz) we will finally be able to travel again. Getting up to go to work every day is hugely overrated and astonishingly, not something I have missed one tiny, tiny bit. But it does mean that when we get back to England we will hopefully not have to live in a box immediately so it will worth it in the end. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway as I scrub the loos.

As it’s the wet season here, there aren’t many tourists so I only spend 3-5 hours cleaning a day which doesn’t earn much so I got another job in a bar for the evenings. It’s an Oirish pub (or meant to be) so everyone who comes in asks me which part of Ireland I’m from…except the guy who said he liked my Dutch accent the other day! This has backfired slightly as the other girl I clean with is going to Melbourne for 6 weeks, meaning I clean the entire hotel by myself which can take 6-8 hours depending on how busy it is. Which leaves an hour to cycle home, have something to eat, shower for the nineteenth time that day – it’s a wonder I’ve got any skin left – and cycle in the opposite direction to the pub to begin another 4-8 hour shift. I am looking forward to the weight just dropping off me as a result of all this exertion! Our housemates lent us their car whilst they visited family in Perth for three weeks and it was absolute bliss not having to cycle everywhere. I think the first day we just drove round with the aircon on marvelling at how little time it took to get anywhere and going to twenty different places just because we could :)

Other than that, we’ve been plagued by monster bugs

…been catching fish (this is one of mine, my second fish in my whole life! Look how enormous he is!)

WOW! LOOK AT THE SIZE OF IT! He made a lovely fish finger. (He didn’t really, we chucked him back. It seemed like child abuse to eat him).

….playing lawn bowls as part of my work’s Christmas party

the lovely fools I work with!

…and enjoying the rain when it does finally come

It’s been an interesting week as there was a cyclone which for a while, looked like it might hit Broome (it didn’t, it hit further south). The nearby oil rigs all shut down and all the men who worked on them came to stay at the hotel where I work in the bar. They hadn’t been on dry land for a month so several of them got stuck into the beers despite knowing they could be called back the next morning. Oil rigs have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to alcohol – members of staff are breathalysed on the helipad before being flown back to the rigs. One person had alcohol in his blood and was sacked on the spot…from his $260,000 a year job. Hope that beer was worth it…

On Wednesday we will have been travelling for a whole year, which is an amazing thought.

NYE 2011

This time last year we were gathering up all our bags to get on the train to London to stay with Gemma and Joe for the last few days before our flight, tying up all the loose ends – or not!, saying goodbye to my lovely dog Holls and all our friends and family and trying not to burst with excitement. We were dressed in coats, hats, jumpers and boots and our bags were not woefully overstuffed like they are now :) We didn’t have a plan of where we were going, or how long we were going to go for, what we were going to do or when but looking back over this blog, we have had an awesome year despite being away our friends and family…we’ve done some amazing things, ate fantastic food, rescued a puppy, ridden elephants and camels, got food poisoning a rather extravagant number of times, met lovely people, worked hard, caught tropical diseases, put on weight, lost weight, drank Laolao with a dead lizard in it, nearly pickled ourselves in various different climates and temperatures and were real life cowboys for three months in the Outback. 2012 was our Year of Adventure…2013 is likely to be our Year of Bankruptcy and Harsh Reality, but we’re not quite ready for that yet. Please sir, can I have some more?

Ridiculously hot, beautiful, small Broome

22 Nov

So we knew we wanted to stay in Broome as we’d fallen in love with the beach and the feel of the place – only problem was that as of the next morning, our gorgeous shiny motorhome with all modcons would be gone and we’d be left with our backpacks and cowboy hats and that was about it. A quick google told us that hostels were out of the question – $60 a night for a private room? Really?? So we went back to the caravan site where we’d parked the van to weigh up our options. On our way through, Craig got chatting to the owner who said that he’d got a spare tent as it was left there by a girl who hadn’t come back, so we could borrow that if we wanted…and he had a table kicking about…and a bit of shade cloth to make things a bit cooler…and a double airbed and pump…and a couple of lights. He also pointed Craig in the direction of people who could help him find a job. Craig went to speak to one of those and came back to say he’d acquired a free esky and a couple of chairs that were going spare – and a potential job for me over the road at a hotel, cleaning rooms. What a result! So within a few hours, we’d gone from homeless to living in a massive 8 person tent

We put all our new furniture in it, went to get camping supplies and spent the first night not believing our luck! I got the hotel job which, although not a career plan, paid ok and was within a 2 min walk from the tent so that was pretty good. It was very hot work though – Broome is getting to 40 degrees plus most days so scrubbing, carring vacuum cleaners around and lugging 12kg linen bags around in that heat certainly made me redefine what the word ‘sweaty’ meant! My new favourite people are the environmental heathens who leave their aircon on all day – the highlight of my day! Craig got a job working at a billionaire’s house round the corner looking after the 13 acre gardens (also hot work being outside all day). However, after a few weeks, it became apparent that living in a tent and sleeping were two mutually exclusive things so we found a caravan site at the other end of town where you could rent cabins for not much more money (really caravans with one side cut off and an extension built on it – but it had a kitchenette with proper oven, fridge/freezer, a proper bed, a tv, sofas and most importantly, lovely, lovely airconditioning. Oh, and a sea view!

When I saw that I made a sort of insane squealing noise that possibly broke all previous high-pitched records.

So moving over the other side of town meant we had to get bikes to get to work…there is a bus but it only goes every hour now it’s wet season and the sensible tourists leave the locals to get on with the insane heat/cyclone risk so we nipped into Broome Cycles and got ourselves a couple of bikes. So now instead of being content to exercise just at work, we cycle to work instead. The amount of water we drink is alarming.

Mum and Martin came for a visit for 3 days before heading back to Brisbane – it was very nice to see them both. I retained a stiff upper lip upon seeing my mum for the first time in 11 months and did definitely not bookend her visit by being a soggy sniffly mess at the airport. But short as the visit was, we managed to show them around Broome and had some nice meals, a couple of swims/jellyfish nibbles in the sea etc.

Broome is famous for pearls, being hot and having camels on Cable Beach. Every day at work, three trains of 16 or so camels would walk past me. When Mum and Martin were here we nipped into the camel shop in Chinatown (town? three streets!) and found a notice on the door to say they were looking for cameleers – looking after the camels, walking them to the beach, loading the tourists on for a ride and talking to the tourists about the camels. Suddenly, it became clear that being a cameleer was pretty much my Reason for My Existence and I put in an application and got a trial.

Part of the trial I did included a free camel ride

which was awesome – less rocky as riding the elephant in Thailand but I think this was mainly because they were going slowly. Some of the staff take them riding in the dunes and they said your legs hurt for days afterwards. So I passed the trial and got the job

but sadly it was not meant to be as Harley the camel booted me in the thigh three times whilst I was walking them down to the beach – it was so painful when he kicked me the first time I didn’t have time to think about taking avoidance action. So I hobbled into our house and poor Craig was confronted with a tearful bruised girl sniffling about something to do with camels. It took me about half an hour to calm down enough to tell him what happened. At least I can cross ‘being a cameleer’ off my search for the Reason for my Existence now though. God damn camels with their eight foot legs. Back to cleaning for me then!

Also crossed off this list is ‘being a nudist’. Craig and I went to explore the nudie beach the other day – walking past the wrinklies who weirdly seem to be the only ones confident enough to get their kit off, and yet, the ones you least want to see all of – and up to a secluded spot…not difficult as the beach is 22 km long and there were only four wrinklies on it in the first place. Got all our white bits out – a very weird feeling! – and went swimming and walked up and down the beach for hours…forgetting that suncream washes off in the sea. I also managed to drop my bikini bottoms somewhere so it was a good job I had my shorts with me too! When we got back my white bits were now very, very pink bits in quite uncomfortable places. Lesson learnt Australian sunshine, lesson learnt.